Posts Tagged St Paul

The Anchorites Cell

DSC03686On 22nd January 2013, I attended a lecture at the Manchester Theological Society by Alex Jacob. The lecture was on the topic of Mr Jacobs book “The Case for Enlargement Theology”.

This polemical lecture explored the relationship between Christianity and her mother religion ‘Judaism’.

Although the lecturer did not put too fine a point on it, Alex Jacob briefly refuted the somewhat inconsistent and popular doctrine of ‘Replacement Theology’.

As always, a question and answer period was offered after the lecture. Many at this point made statements rather than ask questions. Cannon Andrew Shanks asked a question and made a rather problematic yet interesting statement during that session. The point was that in his position he would argue that the 21st century person cannot live by the standards set by St Paul since “we are at a different point in history”.

Obviously, if I am taking this point correctly, it would not involve ‘all’ the standards of St Paul, since many of those standards are still relatively common, common sense, but some of them. The question would also be that many Anglican’s claim we should live according to the words of Jesus, which when consistently studied, are not contrary to the letters of St Paul.

However, in the natural and the historical, that is according to the natural man I could be inclined to agree with the statement by Cannon Shanks? But according to the spiritual man, I could not agree. The reason would be according to my knowledge, understanding and experience of the Holy Spirit and His power to cause a man to live not by bread alone (the natural) but by the Spirit and the Word.

That in order to obey the spiritual we must transcend the natural.

However, following from this line of thought, I would like to add that when an interesting comment or point is raised to me, I often ponder it for a long time.

Being a Christian within the 21st century and maybe not even the Christian I would like to be, I struggle with sin. It is an awful and difficult thing in many ways to be a committed Christian and to live in a 21st century city where modern conveniences and fleshly delights are ever before my sin. The question then haunts me like a ghost; How does a Christian live in modern times according to the standards set before us in the New Testament?

The answer must be ever continual flowing grace from God.

The Anchorites Cell, SkiptonIn February I visited the town of Skipton in North Yorkshire with my wife and children and the ancient Holy Trinity Church which dates to around the turn of the 14th century and contains 15th century alterations.

Within the Holy Trinity Church there can be found what is known as “the Anchorites cell”. Apparently this cell dates back to the middle ages and was used by a female Anchorite.

For those who may not know, an Anchorite was a person who withdrew from the world and lived alone in a cell for the rest of that person’s natural life. The word itself stems from the Greek, meaning to withdraw. It is a form of the monastic life.

In the Anchorite cell at Skipton, people were permitted to visit the Anchorite in the cell which was attached to the church. He or she spent the rest of the natural life in this cell in prayer and also offering advice to any visitors.

Food was given through a small window of which the Anchorite had a view of the altar.

The proposed challenge for those today is to spend time apart from the world to meditate and to pray and in this sense the Anchorite’s cell is just as important today as it was in history, only the application is different.

The question is does a person need to cut themselves off from the world in order to live the Godly life? The answer is no. It cannot be yes or there would be no Christian witness in the world. Thus, as the Christian slogan says, be ‘in the world but not of it’ the matter is obviously clear. But even better than that Paul in Romans 12: 2 instructs us be none-conformists in the sense of not conforming to this fleshly world and in Galatians 5: 16 he gives us the means to do this, “walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”.

How then do we walk in the spirit? The answer is in the meaning of verse 13, ‘Freedom’ and not the freedom to do as you wish, but freedom within, freedom from sin.

The answer can be found in Jesus, “Look unto me all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11: 28

Look to Jesus wherever you are and not to yourself and you will be delivered from yourself.

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Genesis 1: 27 and the new wave of gender-inclusive Bible translations

Bible trodden under foot

Bible trodden under foot © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

On November 10th 2011 I attended a lecture at Manchester Cathedral During this lecture John Parry made mention of gender-inclusive translations of the Bible and how he supports this idea.

This is not a new idea or a ‘new thing’ or exclusive to Mr Parry and his teachings, for many Christians today support new translations of the Bible which are re-worded to fit with gender-inclusive language.

However, for those who do not know what gender-inclusive language is within a Biblical translation context, it reveals itself as a modern scholarship idea created through the root of feminism and employed by some theologians and so-called Christians who seek to appeal to the modern world by arguing that God is neither male nor female?

I marvel that anyone can make this claim and believe in the God of the Bible. Yet, today there are a number of translations which have employed this use of language and no doubt many more will come. Concerning this issue, I see no need to move into a review or exploration of the many arguments which are used to support gender-inclusive language for Bible translations, for, it is an accepted Christian truth that the Bible is the Word of God, therefore, let us go to the Bible first and see if gender-inclusive language would translate the Bible correctly? Firstly, there is not a single passage in the Bible which claims that God is neither male nor female. If God were neither male nor female, He would therefore be sexless and the entire Bible and its revelation of God would be fundamentally different. He absolutely reveals Himself in scripture in a masculine context.

Genesis 1 contains the Biblical account of Gods creation of the universe and of the life of man and beast. Verse 27 of that chapter says this, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” (KJV)

The New King James version translates this text a little clearer and reads as follows: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them”. This text presents a clear case and absolute confirmation that the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve were not one and the same event. There were two events and not one single event and the text shows this.

The Biblical account claims that in the image of God, God created Adam and He created him male, thus God is male. The text makes this point very clear. That “in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them”. The text distinguishes the two points of the creation of Humans, that in the image of God, God created Adam first, that He created Him male, the text then adds that in the image of man God created woman. The text distinguishes this by saying that God created Adam first, the then moves to say, “male and female He created them”. The text is very clear on this. When the Bible says, “God created man in His own image” the Hebrew word employed in this passage is literally “Adam”. That is an important fundamental point to distinguish.

I would further argue that Genesis 2 acts as a kind of commentary or expounding of Genesis 1. I say this for a reason. Genesis 2: 7 reads as follows; “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Thus, the creation of Eve does not fit the context of this verse and was thus was not created out of the dust of the ground, but from Adams rib. Adam was created out of the dust of the earth, not Eve. Thus, she was not created first and therefore, not created in the image of God, but of Adam.

Paul affirms this in 1 Timothy 2: 12-13 in his argument against female teachers within the Body of Christ and what could be seen as Paul writing against feminism? Paul says thus; “I do not permit a woman to teach, or to have authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Paul continues with this theme and gives his reason from out of the scriptures; “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

He then goes on to argue that “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Timothy 2: 14) Paul is clearly writing within an ancient context and also warning future generations that the modern feminist movement is directly in line with what happened back in Eden, that because of woman, men are denying Gods word in favour of the deception of satan.

Further evidence that God created woman after Adam can be found in Genesis 2:18. The text reads as follows; “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make ‘him’ an help meet for ‘him”. This text confirms that the Genesis account is claiming that Adam was formed first.

Genesis 2:21-22 likewise reads; “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

The Bible is very clear that God created Adam first and Eve was created from Adam, no one can rightly argue against the fact that the Bible makes this claim and if any so-called Christian chooses to ignore this or hate that fact that both I and the Bible do say this, then I fail to see why you would call yourself a Christian, since you clearly do not believe what the Bible says?

Now a person could argue that God does not have gender, yet this claim also would be very weak and not in line with the entire Biblical text. God has always revealed Himself male, this can be consistently seen in throughout the Old and New Testaments. God appeared to Abraham as a male (Genesis 18) He appeared to Moses in a masculine way (Exodus 3) He is consistently named in scripture as “He”. Search the scriptures for yourself and see if it is not so?

Likewise, I would also point out a very Christian fundamental truth. That truth would be found in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Himself, who was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit and live as a man and died as a man. If God is neither male nor female, then how do we account for Mary’s conception?

How do we account for Christ being a man? Is He is not the very image of God? Was He not conceived in a masculine way? How then can anyone argue that God is not male?

The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, and I would plead with the church as did Paul when he warned us not to not be blown this way or that because of changing winds of doctrine, (Ephesians 4: 14).

I leave you once again with the text of Genesis 1: 27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” KJV

I ask every individual believer and Christian alike who reads this article, to look to Christ my brethren, bind yourself to Him and He will show you more clearly than I can, that He is who He is (Exodus 3: 14).

I would further add and plead with the Body of Christ that you must not deny the Word of God and forsake His testimony in favour of men and modern winds and an ever changing world. Be faithful to Him and His word and know His love and blessing which are given to those who love Him and keep His word (Exodus 20: 5-6) lest you make God angry and find yourself cast out of His garden and left to wonder through the world.

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